What is a Mega Menu?

Last Update: March 03, 2015

Throughout the past couple of years I have seen for myself that Mega Menus have really become very useful for many site owners as an online consumer myself. In the process, however, Mega Menus rallied much debate among the design community. For those of you who don't know what Mega Menus are, I would be more than happy to tell you. Mega Menu's are in essence really big navigation panels that usually fall under or glide out from your primary menu. They usually aren't really suitable for site’s that don't have much categories or pages to them. If used correctly mega menus can fabricate a fantastic user experience if they are organized very well.

Pro’s for Mega Menus:

Mega menus allow for you to have a lot of choices presented at once. Unlike normal drop down menus, they don't conceal so many courses of action within sub menus or index pages. Users essentially see all of the pages, and don't have to type in the page into the search bar, making it a lot easier for them.

Mega menus allow for effective, well-scaled arrangements and categorizations, reinforcing a visual priority of connections among items and using continuous disclosure to guide users towards the details they are searching for without compelling them by bombarding them with so many choices.

Mega menus have the option to utilize signs and illustrations as well as composition scaling where it is suitable, thus making the ability to scan trouble-free.

Here are some of the Yes’s and No’s that I found while looking at some site’s with Mega Menus.

Yes’s

Use designations to demonstrate communication. Designations that are identified without difficulty and are definitely accommodating show people that more material is visible by pointing them towards the top-level menu for exploration.

Microsoft utilizes down arrows to show the drop-down service.

Diminish the glide underpass/slanted issue. Attempting to steer across a menu component to a sub menu component by utilizing the path with the slightest opposition—a straight slant—can be a giant despair since doing so inactivates an active glide state. Such communications forces users to move their arrow cautiously through what I refer to as “glide underpasses.” This issue can be minimized by postponed timing in glide state activation/inactivation, as well as through other executions.

Place your awareness towards small screen sizes/receptiveness

No’s

Don't use weird shifts. If you take a look at Portero’s mega menu you will see a good example of successful shifts along the menu (Although I still am not a fan of their one-sided full-width user incorporation), but they utilize a weird side-scrolling origin that is quite lethargic.

Do not use jarring, immediate shifts, or build glide underpasses. The most satisfying mega menus to see are usually shrewdly animated and well-timed, but a lot of sites use substandard timing and shifts, creating screen flickering issues and the petrifying “slanted issue” (glide underpasses). If you take a look at The North Face’s menu you'll kind of see what it is that I am referring to.

Do not use erratic communications, mainly without vivid indications. A lot of the top menus that I have taken a look at are tormented by unpredictability since some components opened mega menus while others didn't one bit, and there were no designations (like down arrows) to indicate this. If you take a look at JetBlue you see a good job of indicating varying communications with arrows, but it seems like the user experience could still comfort from constant communications (or at the bare minimum better arrangement).

Do not ever congest the menus. Mega menus are awesome because they enable the display of a ton of other choices which can be a lot more interesting than just having a simple menu at times. However, with Mega Menus one must be cautious not to compel the user with too many options. If you take a look at Staples’s site, you'll clearly see why this is a bad idea. Jakob Nielsen dispenses a detailed listing of categorizing instructions in his now outdated (but still useful) 2009 Alertbox article.


Do not use atypical navigation designs.

Do not construct erratic mega-menu dimensions or arrangements. Some sites are evidently erratic with their sub menus magnitude and/or arrangement.

Do not create mega menus that are towering in size. If you look at Starbucks menu, you can see a great example of what I am talking about. This site looks good on a big screen, but if you are seeing it from laptop screen, the menus take up a sizable amount of space on top of the fold.

Some other suggestions

Lookout for things such as vitreous surfaces that can end up giving you copies among other copies in a diverting manner. Bobbi Brown’s site kind of draws the line with this.

Gliding vs Click

Please be sure that your entire site is not solely based upon gliding, since it is important that users on touch-screen apparatus’s can go around your menu without an eye sore. If your site is using only gliding communication methods, be sure that it still renders effective navigation with click communications as well.

Timing is a significant aspect with menus that use gliding for communication. Just take a look at Nielsen’s recommendations on interaction timing. Great timing communications dodge the Glimmer effect and exasperation's with inadvertent glide communications, avoid irritating the user with slowness, and help to diminish the glide underpass problems.

Mobile Friendly Mega Menu’s

Whether a site is optimized for mobile or created accountability, distinctive emphasis should be put towards optimizing the navigation anatomy for small screen magnitudes. If done correctly, a mega menu isn't so mega when seen through a mobile device.

Even though I haven’t found not one mega menu that has is the perfect example yet, I still think that having a perfect one is rather feasible. A mega menu with good communications, organized detail planning, reliability, and a fantastic user incorporation can be a benefactor to both parties (user and company).

So what are your thoughts on my observations? Do you personally utilize Mega Menu’s yourself, or are you more into regular drop down menus, or just simple menu’s? Please leave a comment, I would really love to hear about some of your very own experiences.

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ROiiiY Premium
Well. What can i say. Most thorough and informative blog i can think of the subject. Covers a lot of topics but always in a direct to the point. Much appreciated!
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floridajf Premium
Thanks, I really tried my best to articulate a wide scope of the knowledge that I had attained from doing research on Mega Menu's.
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Wepi Premium
Great to have this kind of lessons. Thanks very much, Florida.
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floridajf Premium
Thank you :D
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Strap Premium
Wow - what a lot of great content! It is quite apt that I read a post such as this because I will soon be getting to the stage where I will have to make a decision on which way to go with my own menu/categories. I have seen a lot of examples and have not yet come to any decision. This post has thrown a few more considerations into the mix so back to the drawing board with my thoughts! Thank you
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floridajf Premium
Sounds like you need to get to work then :D Thanks for reading my post :)
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SowAndReap Premium
I really like this info, I didn't know of such a thing until you post this. Thanks for the info! :)
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floridajf Premium
Oh yeah, Mega Menu's exist. There are actually a ton of plugins that enable that feature, although it is not suggested because of how hard it is to have a really good one. Thanks for reading :D
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booklover2 Premium
I currently use a drop down menu but have been debating on a mega menu or just a navigation page similar to my landing page, but with a whole site map
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floridajf Premium
Hmm.. If you feel like you have a lot to categorize or a lot of pages, I suggest using a mega menu, if not a simple drop down menu will do the trick.
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booklover2 Premium
I have 13 bookstores and a few other stores, comparison shopping, I'm working on a new bookfinder/price guide page...debating...
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floridajf Premium
It looks like it will definitely take a lot of thinking. What I always do is I sit down and draw the menu (schematically) before I actually make a rough draft on my site and constantly improve it for better user interface. I currently am still having issues with the mega menu though and am in the process of redesigning a lot of things for my site.
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booklover2 Premium
Do we already have an option for mega menus, where would I find it or is there a good plug in
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floridajf Premium
If you type in Mega Menu Plugin's to the search engine you will find a ton. If you want to save yourself the trouble though, you could always buy a theme that comes with a pre-installed professionally done menu. I personally use ThemeFuse, but I have heard that many WA members also use Elegant Themes.
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booklover2 Premium
ok thank you
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floridajf Premium
Meant to say that the themes come with pre-installed professionally done Mega Menu's. Sorry about that :)
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